Summer in Chicago gets busy fast, what with all the street fests you're attending and patio drinking you have planned. When you need to relax for an afternoon (and you don't feel like trekking to the beach) a trip to the pool can rejuvenate you. Thankfully, Chicago's parks house a variety of public pools, where you can lounge by the water or jump in—all free of charge. Some of them even have slides! Find a place to swim laps, take the kids or catch up on your summer reading with our guide to Chicago's best pools.
RECOMMENDED: Find more things to do in the summer
Best swimming pools in Chicago
A green space as grand as Washington Park deserves an exceptional summer attraction. How about a 50-meter heated pool surrounded by an enormous deck, complete with stadium seating? Connected to the main pool is a kidney-shaped side pool with a zero-depth entrance that gradually gets deeper. Plus, there's a water slide for thrillseekers.
Go for a stroll through nearby Horner Park and then take a dip in this 50-yard, six-lane pool at California Park. Lap swims are a regular occurrence here if you're in search of some serious exercise.
Just like the plants in the Garfield Park Conservatory, humans need water to survive the summer. Once you're done admiring the foliage, head toward the gold-domed field house, where you'll find one of the city's most tucked-away spots for a swim.
Sometimes referred to as Palmer Water Park, this Pullman park has the most serious collection of water slides of any public pool in the city. Best of all, the slides descend into dedicated pools, so you won't have to dodge kids splashing into the water from above.
In the shadow of the Kennedy Expressway, this five-lane outdoor pool is easily accessible from the Belmont Blue Line station. A mini spray pool allows little ones to get in on the summer fun.
After taking a stroll through nearby Bohemian National Cemetery or a bike ride on the North Branch Trail, chill out in the small (but totally refreshing) pool in Gompers Park.
The home of Riot Fest also hosts a wonderful 50-yard pool where you can relax and swim laps (though you'll need to provide your own punk-rock soundtrack).
When you're in Pilsen, there are two great ways to beat the summer heat: by eating a paleta or jumping into the Dvorak Park pool.
With no public pools in Logan Square, this Bucktown park is a destination for area residents in need of some cool, chlorinated water to swim in.
Fuller Park may look like a private estate, but its facilities are open to the public. That includes the pool, which is located next to the spacious baseball field. The park also boasts an interactive water spray pool for the kids.
Grab a treat from Dat Donut (at 83rd Street and Cottage Grove Avenue) and walk to Avalon Park, where you'll find a six-lane pool with one of the rarest of features: an honest-to-God water slide.
Portage Park houses an Olympic-size pool so cush it played host to the 1972 Olympic swimming trials. The pool’s best feature is its 25-meter diving well, home to a diving platform so high you’ll have to reposition your swimsuit before you exit the water.
Located within walking distance of the South Western Blue Line station, head to this outdoor five-lane West Side pool to splash around as you watch vehicles driving in and out of the city on the scenic Dwight D. Eisenhower Expressway.
Within eyeshot of the home of the Chicago White Sox, the pool at Armour Square Park provides the perfect opportunity to cool down before (or after) an exciting baseball game.
The only thing that trumps a Slip ’N Slide for summertime fun is a real live water slide. Norwood Park's slide might not be as big or fast as a water park's, but it's free to use (and nearly as much fun).
As much as we'd love to take a dip in the Chicago River, it's probably best to stick to this public pool in River Park. Once you're done, head to nearby Lincoln Square for a rooftop bite at Gene's Sausage Shop and Delicatessen.
Located near Wicker Park and Bucktown, this 30-meter public pool is a popular destination for kids (and their guardians) during the hot summer months. The water playground next door is great for little ones who haven't graduated from swimming lessons yet.
You might be tempted to take a dip in one of Humboldt Park's sandy lagoons, but you'll miss out on the water slide—the most popular feature of this park's pool.
Sure, you can catch a show at the Aragon or the Riv, but this Uptown swimming hole offers views of intense matches taking place on the adjacent tennis courts.
Want to take a lunchtime dip? Union Park (home to Pitchfork and North Coast music festivals) is less than 10 minutes away from the Loop on the Green Line. Take a long lunch, swim a few laps and come back to the office smelling like chlorine.
The majority of Sherman Park is an island in the middle of the city, surrounded by a manmade river. The park's pool is on the north side of the park—and you won't have to swim across a channel to get to it.
Head to the West Side's Columbus Park and you'll find a pool that's big enough to accommodate a crowd of swimmers and deep enough (11 feet) for divers.
Head down Western Boulevard from the Western Orange Line station and you'll find yourself in Gage Park, where a 48-yard, six-lane pool awaits. You could easily stop by for a quick swim on your way to or from Midway Airport.
If the pool at Garfield Park is a little too crowded, head farther west to Clark (John) Park, where you'll find this small three- to four-feet deep pool—perfect for a quick summer dip.
In a section of the city where public pools are scarce, this North Lawndale park provides a body of water large enough for swimming laps or splashing around with the kids on a hot summer day.
A destination for residents in Roscoe Village, Bucktown and Lakeview, the 50-yard pool is one of Hamlin Park's biggest attractions when the mercury rises.
Hop off the Blue Line at the Jefferson Park Transit Center and you're just a block away from this community pool, where you can swim off the calories after a visit to Superdawg or Brgrbelly.
Teenagers and adults will enjoy practicing their breaststroke in McKinley Park's 25-yard pool, but parents can also bring their kids to the adjacent water playground.
Visitors to this West Town park can take a few laps around the soccer pitch before diving into Smith Park's ample 25-yard pool or cooling off in the water spray feature.